BREMERTON, Wash., Dec. 18, 2017 — More than 50 service members teamed up with volunteers and more than 35 other organizations, Dec. 16, to lay wreaths on the gravestones of veterans at Ivy Green Cemetery here in recognition of the 26th annual Wreaths Across America Day.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand on the annual wreath-laying ceremony that begain in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery. The mission of “Remember, Honor, Teach” is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as at veterans’ cemeteries in all 50 states and beyond, to remember America’s fallen heroes, honor those who serve and to teach children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families.
“We are gathered here today at this memorial site, and at memorial sites all across America, to remember that we are one nation with one flag,” said master of ceremonies, and retired Navy senior chief petty officer, Mick Hersey. “We are laying these wreaths today to ensure that [our veterans] are remembered, and not just today, but every day. Today we join with others in more than 1,400 cemeteries across the United States to remember the fallen and honor those who have served.”
Moment of Silence
The laying of the ceremonial wreaths at all locations coincides with the laying of the ceremonial wreath upon the “Tomb of the Unknowns” at Arlington National Cemetery, also called “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, with every location holding a moment of silence together in remembrance of those lost.
“This ceremony serves as a reminder that amidst whatever challenges our nation faces, we recognize the importance of pausing to reflect on the past, gain inspiration and renew our courage,” said Navy Capt. Alan Schrader, commander of Naval Base Kitsap and the keynote speaker of the ceremony. “Today is a day to remember, to honor and to teach. We remember those who donned the uniform of our country, their service, sacrifice and achievements are commendable and heroic, and each day we enjoy freedoms that were made possible by their actions.”
During the ceremony, a service member from each branch of the U.S. armed forces carried a wreath decorated with a red bow to the cemetery’s tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument, and rendered a salute. Afterward, wreaths were placed at the headstones of veterans interred across the cemetery.
“Ivy Green Cemetery is now the final resting place for approximately 500 veterans,” Schrader said. “As we pay our respects and honor these veterans, we must also remember that each one of them was an individual who had a family and friends, and left a legacy of their own. The veterans here represent all who have served our great nation. We are a better community and better nation because of them.”
Ivy Green Cemetery has a large military section, honoring fallen men and women of all services. Of the 4,000 grave sites in Ivy Green Cemetery, 486 belong to veterans. This is the sixth year that Ivy Green Cemetery has participated in Wreaths Across America.